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McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Mall in Vancouver Adds Retail Tenants in “Spectacular” Year [GM Interview]

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It was an exciting year in 2022 for McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver with a number of new store openings and 2023 promises to be a continuation of the momentum developed in the retail sector for the property.

Robert Thurlow, General Manager of the shopping centre, described 2022 as a “spectacular” year.

Robert Thurlow

“It was so much better than anticipated. I was very surprised by the rebound that we saw in 2022. It was remarkable. We finished the year 30 per cent ahead of our budget. And if anybody had told me that back in the first quarter I would have told them they were crazy,” said Thurlow.

“But it really did happen probably from the April/May period onward straight through the end of the year. Once we saw some of the lifting and easing of some of the pandemic restrictions that we had earlier in the year, and most of those were restricted around March time, and we really did see a return to travel, especially domestic travel, I thought it really surprised us. What we saw was huge numbers of people returning not just to McArthurGlen but obviously to Vancouver and British Columbia from Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. Those were the big feeder markets that we saw throughout 2022 and interestingly when we were looking at the visitor numbers coming from those other provinces we were actually over indexing from 2019 from Ontario. We actually saw a 15 per cent increase of visitors from Ontario visiting the centre from what we saw in 2019.”

Image: McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver

He said traffic was up 29.8 per cent from 2021 and just over 30 per cent up in sales.

Thurlow said the local catchment has been very supportive throughout the pandemic as well. 

“We’re really seeing local customers in much stronger numbers than we ever saw pre-pandemic. I think the brand mix, the new stores that we opened, really resonated with that local customer,” he said.

In 2022, the centre opened seven new stores – Furla, Karl Lagerfeld, Pandora, Harry Rosen, Browns, Steve Madden and Castella Cheesecake.

In 2023, Thurlow said Oak & Fort and Moose Knuckles will be opening new permanent additions. There will also be a new Plenty store as well as the upsizing of Versace and Mountain Warehouse.

“By the time we get to mid-year with the openings of the new stores and the stores that are under construction for the expansions, we’ll be fully leased, It will get us up to 99 per cent which is considered fully leased, which is a great spot for us to be,” said Thurlow. “A lot of our success is certainly down to the really strong leasing activity that we’ve had throughout the pandemic and leading us all the way into 2023.”

Image: McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver

The second phase of McArthurGlen was opened just a few months before the pandemic struck in March 2020. 

“For us to get that kind of a rebound and to see phase two fully leased within two, two and a half years, is remarkable,” said Thurlow.

McArthurGlen currently has about 325,000 square feet. By mid-year with the new stores, the shopping centre will be up to 95 stores.

“We are planning a phase three. We’re working on that now and hopefully we’ll have an announcement maybe in the next quarter of what the timing of that is going to look like because we do have land on the northeast corner of the property right now,” explained Thurlow. 

“It’s about another 65,000 square feet that will be our phase three. That will be about an additional 30 to 35 stores depending on how we carve up the space. That’s coming on the radar very quickly and I think we should have an announcement about that within the next few months about our planned timing for that phase.”

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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